Island writers Kathy Page and Jennifer Manuel (from left) are among the presenters at this year’s Federation of B.C. Writers’ Spring Writes Festival in Nanaimo. (Photos courtesy Billie Woods/Nick Caumanns)

Federation of B.C. Writers’ Spring Writes Festival returns to Nanaimo

More than 30 presenters will hold readings and workshops in downtown venues

Two years ago the Federation of British Columbia Writers held its inaugural Spring Writes Festival in Nanaimo. Federation president Ann Graham Walker said it was such a success that it’s now a yearly event and next month it’s coming back to Nanaimo.

From May 2 to 5 more than thirty writers, editors and publishing specialists will be holding readings and presenting workshops and panels in downtown venues. Some events are free and others require payment but due to space restrictions attendees are asked to register in advance. The workshops are open to writers of varying experience.

“We have people coming who are established, published writers, we have people coming who maybe are just thinking about writing and haven’t actually really done much except scribble secretly in their notebook,” Walker said.

New for this year, the federation is bringing a publishing lawyer from Toronto. Walker said writers sometimes approach the federation for advice on things like contracts.

“It puts us in a difficult situation because not only are we not lawyers, but we actually don’t have anybody to refer them to in B.C. because there are no publishing lawyers,” she said.

The theme for this year’s festival is “Where will my words take me?” Walker, who helped organize the event, said the theme has multiple meanings.

“As a writer your words can take you to many different places, she said. “It can either take you to places internally or it can be a way for you to connect with your society … by expressing things that you feel are important. There’s a question mark after that title and people can answer it any way they want to.”

Author Jennifer Manuel, who splits her time in Duncan and Kyuquot, is returning for her second festival. She’ll be offering a workshop in fiction writing called How to Layer your Narrative Details. She said she’s looking forward to attending some readings herself.

“The Spring Writes Festival seems to have grown to me and the quality of writers that they’re getting now just keeps improving…” Manuel said. “I find it really motivating and inspiring.”

Vancouver Island University English professor Kathy Page will be reading from her Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize-winning novel Dear Evelyn, which was also recently nominated for the West Coast Book Prize Society’s Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

Page led a workshop the last time the festival was in Nanaimo. She said the participants were “lively” and that it was a “very dynamic and bustling event” and she’s pleased to be returning.

“I’m really looking forward to it because I know that it’s a good crowd and a big range of people and a great audience for a writer to present to,” Page said.

WHAT’S ON … The third annual Federation of B.C. Writers’ Spring Writes Festival comes to downtown Nanaimo from May 2 to 5. Click here for a full schedule of events and to register.

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